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Thursday, August 16
Updated: August 17, 4:27 PM ET
Red Sox replace Williams with Kerrigan

Associated Press

BOSTON -- Joe Kerrigan had an appointment with his chiropractor Thursday when he was called to a lunch meeting with Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette.

Jimy Williams
Jimy Williams' No. 1 mistake was his refusal to play Trot Nixon every day.

He soon got the news that shocked him: Jimy Williams was fired as Boston's manager in the middle of a pennant race and he was taking over.

"I am really surprised," said Kerrigan, who never made it to his appointment after taking charge of the injury-plagued team. "I figured he was going to talk to me about Pedro."

Suddenly, Boston's playoff prospects rest as much on Kerrigan's ability to straighten out the entire team as they do on Pedro Martinez's ability to come back from a shoulder problem.

The Red Sox led the AL in ERA the past two seasons and were ranked fourth this year before the finale of a three-game series against Seattle.

The Mariners won the first two games, giving Boston six losses in seven games and providing Duquette an opportunity to move against a manager with whom he had a cool relationship.

Williams' record
Yr Team W-L Pct. Pos.
'86 Toronto 86-76 .531 4th
'87 Toronto 96-66 .593 2nd
'88 Toronto 87-75 .537 T3rd
'89 Toronto 12-24 .333 --
'97 Boston 78-84 .481 4th
'98 Boston 92-70 .568 2nd
'99 Boston 94-68 .580 2nd
'00 Boston 85-77 .525 2nd
'01 Boston 65-53 .551 --
Tot. Boston 414-352 .540

Tot. Career 695-593 .540

Williams could not be reached for comment.

Duquette said that the team tried to hire Felipe Alou as the replacement for Williams, but could not reach agreement on the length of the contract.

"Together with Red Sox fans, we are intensely focused on reaching our shared goals as we pursue the AL East title, a playoff berth, and continue our efforts toward bringing a World Series championship to Boston," Duquette said in a statement.

That hasn't happened since 1918. Kerrigan, who got a contract through 2003, took over with the Red Sox a season-high 5 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East. Boston beat the Mariners 6-4 Thursday night, leaving the Red Sox five games behind New York in the division and two games back of Oakland in the wild card race.

Boston, with eight players on the disabled list, has been battered by injuries. Nomar Garciaparra missed the first 103 games after wrist surgery on Opening Day, and Martinez has been on the disabled list since June 26.

Martinez could return before the end of the month after experiencing no problems Thursday during a 60-pitch simulated game. Bret Saberhagen, also on the disabled list, threw 63 pitches in a simulated game and said he'll be ready to pitch Aug. 23 when he's eligible to come off the DL.

"We have 43 games left. Our goal is to get into the playoffs. That's all we're concerned about," said Kerrigan, who never had managed in the majors.

Asked if Kerrigan, more outgoing than Williams, could energize the team, Saberhagen said, "I think a big lift is going to be when Pedro comes back."

For now, the Red Sox will settle for Kerrigan, who is known for his attention to detail and analyses of opposing hitters. Six binders of scouting reports are in the bookcase next to his clubhouse locker and adjacent to the manager's office.

"Joe is one of the most prepared people I've ever come across," infielder Mike Lansing said.

Kerrigan bio
Here's a look at Joe Kerrigan's career as a coach:

  • Pitching coach for the Red Sox from 1997-present.
  • Pitching coach for the Expos from 1992-'96.
  • Pitching coach for the Expos' Double-A Harrisburg team in 1991.
  • Pitching coach for the Expos' Triple-A Indianapolis team from 1988-'90.
  • Pitching coach for the Expos' Double-A Jacksonville team in 1987.
  • Bullpen coach for the Expos from 1983-'86.
  • Kerrigan, 47, had been Boston's pitching coach since 1996 after five years in that role for the Montreal Expos.

    He was hired a month before Williams became manager on Nov. 19, 1996. In his four full seasons, Williams led the Red Sox to the playoffs twice as a wild card team and into the AL championship series in 1999, where they lost 4-1 to the Yankees. He was AL manager of the year in 1999.

    Boston was 65-53 after Wednesday night's 6-2 loss to Seattle. Williams' overall record with the Red Sox was 414-352.

    He was fired by the Toronto Blue Jays in his fourth season as their manager, in 1989, when the team started 12-24.

    One gripe players had with Williams was his constantly changing lineups. Kerrigan said he planned to keep the first five spots stable with Trot Nixon leading off and Garciaparra batting second.

    "You have to treat the position players the same way you treat the pitchers" in letting them know how they'll be used, Kerrigan said.

    Nixon doesn't care where he bats.

    "My biggest concern is helping my ballclub win," he said. "It's a difficult time because Jimy was very important in my professional career up here in Boston."

    Dante Bichette, one of the more outspoken advocates for a stable lineup, thought the move could revive the team.

    "It sends a little bit of a jolt through the clubhouse, get some guys some new hope, sends some guys a few messages," Bichette said.

    Most players took the change in stride. Carl Everett, who had run-ins last season with Williams, refused comment.

    "We're all surprised," Garciaparra said. "We've got to get back into playing good baseball no matter who's our manager."

    Kerrigan was a candidate for the Cleveland managerial job that went to Charlie Manuel after the 1999 season. He said that now he has to get used to working with position players as well as pitchers.

    "You have to spend a little more time getting to know them," Kerrigan said. "I will need some input from the staff."

    Bullpen coach John Cumberland will handle the pitchers and bullpen catcher Dana Levangie will become bullpen coach. Kerrigan spoke to Williams after the change.

    "He told me 'go for it,' basically," Kerrigan said. "I think Jimy, to a man in that clubhouse, was respected as a man."

    Williams' firing came after his team struggled against the AL's top two pitching staffs. Boston managed three runs in losing three straight games at Oakland last week and scored five in the first two games against Seattle.

    The Red Sox took over first place in the AL East on May 31 and held it until July 3 but are just 14-17 since the All-Star break.

    Williams signed a two-year contract to become Boston's 41st manager after spending the previous six seasons as a coach with Atlanta. He worked on one-year extensions, usually announced during spring training. But he didn't get an extension this year and his contract was due to expire at the end of the season.

    "Everybody was looking that there was probably going to be a change made at the managerial position after the year was over," Saberhagen said, "but I don't think anybody expected it."

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    ESPN's Peter Gammons looks at Dan Duquette's decision to fire Jimy Williams.
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    Boston GM Dan Duquette feels a managerial change can help the team get back on track.
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